|11-06-2008, 06:35 AM||#1|
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Wallace, Edgar: The Devil Man. v1, 6 Nov 2008
Description from "gadetection":
A late Wallace (1931) and an uneasy and uncharacteristic mixture of fact and fiction. Wallace aims to tell the story of the talented burglar, Charlie Peace, hanged for murder in 1879, but he can't resist the urge to mix into it one of his standard plots about love, intrigue and sinister foreigners.
Dr. Mainford and his nurse Jane Garden are living in the outskirts of Sheffield in 1875 when their work brings them in contact with Frau Stahm and Herr Baumgarten, German residents with a particular interest in the steel trade. Stahm and Baumgarten have robbery in mind, and they consult an expert -- the thoroughgoing villain Charlie Peace.
In real life Peace seems to have been an opportunistic sociopath as sinister as any fictional villain, and the author can't prevent him from running away with the latter part of the story and leaving both Dr. Mainford and Frau Stahm more or less stranded. Fair tribute is paid to Peace's many perverted talents as well as his overweening vanity, and the book ends with a fairly accurate description of his two trials -- under different names -- and ultimate execution.
The result is a long, uneven work which should still be of interest to those who want to see how Wallace handles a real criminal in a time and a milieu remote from his own.
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